Polarized: Side by Side

In college I remember learning about Muckrackers, journalists who exposed corruption in business and in politics. The reporting conducted by many of these brave men and women led to significant policy changes in the early 20th century.

Journalists play a key role in any democracy. Below are just some examples of injustices muckrackers helped expose and the social and political change their word led to.

In times like this, the role of investigative journalism has become a matter of life or death. How will we help the muckrackers of the 21st century?


John Spargo wrote about the enslavement of children in the textile industry in the early 1900’s. Here is an image from children participating in a labor protest in 1903. His work brought attention to the need for labor laws to protect minors.







Ida Tarbell exposed the practices of the Standard Oil Company. Her book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, became an instant best-seller and helped pave the way for regulation.

(Ida Tarbell, photo from New York Social Diary)






David Graham Phillips published an article called, “Treason of the Senate” which exposed corruption in the US Senate. This article pushed forward the idea that Senators should be elected and not appointed, which led to the eventual ratification of the 17th Amendment.






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